Save Money on Marketing without Sacrificing Quality
By Aaron Broverman
Without a healthy marketing budget, it’s possible no one will know your company even exists.
Problem is, not every business has wads of cash to spend to promote its products and services. What do you do when your marketing budget is severely limited, but you don’t want the end result of your efforts to look that way?
We asked Donovan Neale-May, the founder and executive director of the Chief Marketing Officer Council, that question and he had a few tips.
The Chief Marketing Officer Council is a global affinity network of more than 6,500 senior marketing and branding executives who control more than $350 billion in annual marketing spend, so they would know how to shrewdly save on marketing budgets.
But before you figure out how to save money on marketing, there are a few things Neale-May says you need to know first.
“First and foremost is having a very clear view on what you’re trying to achieve and having an understanding of what tools and technologies are available today to make it faster, easier and more effective to do marketing.”
Keep in mind that the marketing landscape has changed dramatically and there are very cost-efficient solutions out there that obviate the need to hire an agency or other specialists. Along with software solutions that are pay-as-you-go, there are a number of tools you can use to help hone in on your target market before you spend money on random marketing efforts.
Tools and Technologies
“Depending on who you’re trying to reach, you can use an e-mail marketing system like Marketo, which is fairly inexpensive and easy to acquire and use. You can be using CRM systems like Salesforce for collecting and managing information, while being able to repeatedly interact,” says Neale-May.
All of these tools help you create a richer, deeper profile and connection with your customers and enrich their experience with more relevant information.
Plus, databases such as Info U.S.A. or the small business advisory services of search engine companies like Google, Yahoo or Bing can help you find and target the right customers for your products. Networks on LinkedIn can also help you connect with like-minded individuals.
“It depends on who your market is, but whether you’re targeting doctors or lawyers, professionals or dentists, there are dedicated providers of list sources with access to those marketplaces.”
Once you’ve acquired these lists, the idea is to build your own database using a content management service like Constant Contact and analyze your website to see how you can get more organic traffic directed toward the site and make it more visible. You can do this through content marketing or a presence on social media.
Editor’s Note: You should also consider a news release strategy. You can send news releases to your custom email lists through a news release distributor like Marketwired. You’ll expand your visibility further if you send them across the wire, online, and to your social networks at the same time. You can even drive people back to your website through embedded links. News releases can be very cost-effective marketing tools.
Word of Mouth over Social Media
If your audience is a business audience, Neale-May is skeptical about the effectiveness of reaching them.
“You’re going to work with LinkedIn groups and professional or industry organizations to get word-of-mouth and third-party validation referrals,” he says.
As a content marketing strategy, he suggests a better approach would be a blog and more professional business networks like LinkedIn to act as content channels where you can post the content.
“Of course, if you’re going business-to-consumer, there are ways to become more targeted with Facebook posts and Tweets,” Neale-May continues, pointing out that such a communication channel is only effective if you’re targeting millennials and younger Gen Xers.
“It’s not just about brand recognition and getting people to talk you up, but it’s about identifying customers and prospects. There are platforms such as Hoojook, which help the automotive industry identify people looking to buy a car and what they’re saying about it.”
Products like Hoojook are by subscription and can be used for relatively low cost.
“Being smarter and more adept at using digital media, understanding localized search services, getting your SEO data reviewed, getting a lot of user-generated content and getting buyers to talk up your services in their personal networks to get more introductions and referrals are all very cost-effective strategies to use,” Neale-May confirms.
Embrace Non-Traditional Forms of Marketing
Even within social media, Neale-May advocates non-traditional forms of marketing such as guerilla or ambush marketing as a way to make an affordable statement. After all, these avenues are not product-centric and are more about a funny viral video where mentions of the product or service are embedded.
“With ambush marketing it’s more about hijacking someone else’s real environment to get your story told without paying for it,” says Neale-May.
Sometimes these non-traditional marketing campaigns run the risk of bumping up against city authorities, especially if you’re trying to pull them off in high traffic urban area where bylaws and permits come into play, but Neale-May says you don’t necessarily need to worry.
“The idea is not to pay for anything,” says Neale-May. One company paid people to dress up and promote a campaign as dressed-up fans inside a stadium. They had every right to be there and sometimes you can even avoid that whole situation by using nature and writing messages in cornfields, for example.”
If you’re going to go the guerilla route, he also points out you need to be willing to take a little risk.
“You have to be willing to be slapped on the wrist because sometimes it pays to be the unofficial sponsor of an event, but make sure that approach fits with your brand. Make sure your brand is looking for an edgier, hipper approach and targeting a younger demographic.”